One of Disney World’s most beloved retired attractions is The Great Movie Ride. Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios within the Chinese Theatre, The Great Movie Ride was a tribute to the movies we loved and the art that is shown on the silver screen. The Great Movie Ride was an opening day attraction for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1989, and the attraction made its final journey in August of 2017. It was replaced with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The Great Movie Ride has a rich history and a devoted fan base! Read on to learn more about The Great Movie Ride!
The idea for The Great Movie Ride came before Hollywood Studios was even created. In fact, The Great Movie Ride was the concept that gave Disney the idea for the park, which was originally called Disney-MGM Studios. Through a licensing agreement with MGM several classic movies were to be used for the attraction and brought to live via sets and audio-animatronics. With the attraction being housed in a replica of the Chinese Theatre, imagineers had the idea to title it The Great Movie Ride in order for guests to understand that it was indeed a ride and not a film.
The Great Movie Ride experience began in the queue area where guests were led through an elegant theatre lobby full of film props and replicas. Trailers for each film featured in the attraction played on a big movie theater screen while guests waited to enter the loading area. Once guests boarded the ride vehicles, they were greeted by a live tour guide Cast Member narrated the attraction and even played a role in the attraction’s storyline.
The attraction made its way through the sets of classic movies like Footlight Parade and Mary Poppins. The ride then moved through a scene from The Public Enemy. Depending on which ride vehicle guests were seated on, the live-action portion of the attraction either began during this scene or during the next scene of a western genre film. During this portion of the attraction, the ride vehicle was taken over by either a gangster or a cowboy, depending on which scene your vehicle stoped at. The next scene was an eerie and immersive scene from Alien, with Indiana Jones immediately following. During the Indiana Jones scene, guests were reunited with their original tour guide after their hijacker left the vehicle to attempt to steal a jewel. The ride continued on with scenes from Tarzan, Casablanca, Fantasia, and finally two different scenes from The Wizard of Oz. The ride concluded with all ride vehicles reuniting in a dark theatre to watch a montage of film scenes that was frequently updated. The tour guide took their final bow and guests disembarked where they entered.
Changes Throughout the Years
The Great Movie Ride surprisingly experienced few changes throughout the years. The biggest change in the attraction was the change of sponsor from MGM to Turner Classic Movies. With these changes brought a prerecorded narration that played through most of the attraction replacing the live tour guide, aside from a few lines and the vehicle hijacking scenes.
The ride’s opening sequence of Footlight Parade had technical issues almost immediately after opening. The giant “cake” that the animatronics were placed on initially rotated and sprayed water. Both of these features were constantly breaking down causing ride engineers to stop running them entirely. These were instead replaced with lighting effects.
In 2017 it was announced that The Great Movie Ride would be closing to make way for a new attraction. This announcement was met with much criticism and sadness from the ride’s dedicated fan base. The attraction continued to run through August of 2017 with many guests traveling to catch one last ride. In March of 2020, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened and was met with glowing reviews.
Did you enjoy The Great Movie Ride? Or do you prefer Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Photo by Emily Murray.